Address from Liz Walker, County Commissioner
Firstly, a huge thank you to all of our amazing volunteers for everything you are doing and have done for Hertfordshire Scouts - especially to those who are key workers during this difficult time, we are all part of one team #TeamHertfordshire.
What is team Hertfordshire? A concept that tries to bring us all together from across the County so we can realise the power of the team that we are. We need to remember we are part of an amazing movement, the Scout movement but we are also part of something special here in Hertfordshire. If we pull together as one team to support each other and work together we can be something very special.
On the call Liz was joined by:
Mike Shurety, County Chairman
Claire Stevens, County Secretary
Frank Monnington, County Treasurer
Mark Jefferson, ACMC Chairman
Dave Pullen, Safety and Safeguarding Co Ordinator
Dan Nathan, Deputy County Commissioner
Emma Ball, Marketing and Communications Manager
What’s going on across Hertfordshire?
Hertfordshire Scouts Facebook Pages:
Here are links to our Facebook pages for leaders where you can share your ideas.
Hertfordshire Scouts click HERE
Hertfordshire Beaver Leaders Facebook Page click HERE
Hertfordshire Explorer Scouts Facebook Page click HERE
Youth led has never been more relevant, we are needed by our young people now more than ever. Please do continue with virtual Scouting if you can or keep in touch with your young people to keep the movement alive.
We are also aware that there are adults and young people who are finding getting engaged in Scouting a challenge during this difficult time. You must do what you feel you must do individually, the mental health of young people and ourselves is paramount, please take care of yourselves and your families - they come first. If you can manage Scouting brilliant, as our young people need us and their mental health is also important.
Face to face Scouting will return as soon as we are able to but we cannot start until HQ say we can, there are no exceptions. If you are able to please join HQ in their All members online meeting on Wednesday 24th June, 7pm for an update and news on preparing for a safe return to face to face Scouting.
Please do everything you can to make sure you are up to date with mandatory training. New training is now available online. Check compass first to make sure your email address is up to date, that your communications preferences are correct so you receive the appropriate updates and make sure training is up to date. If you have done some training and it doesn’t show up please contact your District Training Advisor to make sure it gets updated accordingly.
Mike Shurety, County Chairman
Thank you, all Chairs, Treasurers and Trustees from Districts and Groups, for all you are doing to support local Scouting, it is very much appreciated.
At County level the Standing Committee (sub committee of the County Executive) have been meeting every 2 weeks via Zoom and deal with matters of moment via WhatsApp. The County Executive have been given periodic updates and are consulted key decisions are required.
Our and your main focus is to ensure that our charities remain viable ongoing concerns, able to deliver their primary objectives i.e. the Scouting programme to our young people across Hertfordshire.
Back in March the County issued guidance to District Officers about steps that could be taken to ensure that the charities assets remain secure and that they continue to be viable entities. They are four important points to ensure charitable stability:
- Ensure your fix costs can be met, this includes things such as rent, utilities, insurances and essential building maintenance.
- Defer all critical expenditure immediately
- Take account of any unavoidable expenses or expenditure
- Review reserves and your reserves policies to see you have sufficient to see you through the crisis.
Claire Stevens, County Secretary
The County AGM has been postponed with no new date set as of yet. Many of you would have been planning your group or District AGMs and looking towards filing your accounts with the charity commission. The normal scenario is that an AGM is held within 6 months of the end of the financial year as POR requires us to, followed by within 10 months completing your return to the Charity Commission.
The Scout Association Nationally have suggested that Groups and Districts follow the advice of the Charity Commission re holding of AGMs and where appropriate filing your accounts:
- There may be a need to postpone an AGM and that at present we may not be able to follow POR/operate in line with our governance. At present there is no deadline as to when an AGM must be held and postponement may be the most sensible option.
- You can hold an AGM remotely, however, if trustees make this decision ensure it is recorded in the minutes of your executive.
- Whatever decision is made, assess the risk of doing it and communicate the decision to all members. The decision is one for trustees to make, but must take all risks into account e.g. are there issues that need to be addressed which could suggest need to hold a remote meeting rather than delay. Stress need for recording of all decisions in case The Charity Commission ask.
- The Charity Commission accept that there may a delay in filing of accounts/annual report and are willing to look at extension, but do stress delay to AGM is not a reason to delay this as accounts etc. are approved by the Executive Committee, and are only adopted at the AGM. Look on The Scouts website for dedicated email address to request this.
There is guidance on The Scouts website (via the ‘read more’ button on the yellow banner ‘Guidance and support around Coronavirus’ Scroll down to the section for Executive Committees, within this you will also find links to Charity Commission, NCVO and Government advice. Please familiarize yourselves with this.
Frank Monnington, County Treasurer
Summarising the thoughts of the County on the financial implications of COVID-19.
- All should take advantage of the Grants available to those paying rates on properties as there are Grants available of £10,000 and £25,000 depending on the rates you pay. At County level Grants have been received for Well End, Harmergreen, Lochearnhead and Tolmers. Phasels unfortunately has a rateable value too high, so falls outside of the Government Grant scheme. We recommend that you search locally if there are any organisations willing to give Grants to local Charities that you could apply for.
- Gift Aid another good source of funds for your Groups. Although according to the census return there are still a number of Groups and Districts that are not availing themselves of this facility. Remember Groups can claim as long as they have a Gift Aid form from the parents for all membership subscriptions and the District can claim for their Explorer subscriptions. There is also the facility to back date the claims for four years to recover any earlier year’s payments that are not yet claimed.
- Subscriptions, if you have suspended your subs please consider asking parents for a reduced rate to help you meet your annual payment to District and HQ. As we are unable to prepare next year’s budget until later in the year we cannot confirm the county levy. Although the County receives income to cover much of the County requirements from the Activity Centres this will be minimal based on the impact of non or reduced trading this year. However, we intend to minimise any increase to our members.
- Whilst there are no hardship funds to Groups who are unable to meet their annual subscription from County, there is at least one District that have a policy of loaning a Group the funds to pay their subscriptions on the basis that it is paid back over the coming year.
- This March we took a look at our County budget and put a hold on all but essential spend and immediately took advantage of the staff Furlough scheme where we cut our staff to a minimum. This again is minimising the risk to the county as much as possible.
- Despite the restrictions of COVID19 we were able to provide sufficient evidence to our auditors for them to complete their audit, however we are unable to present the accounts to the Executive until we demonstrate to our auditors that we have sufficient funds or strategy to meet our liabilities for the forthcoming 12months. With the impact on our activity centres we have to undertake a full structural review of the County.
- The County Lottery is run by a firm called Unity, 50% of entry fee goes to covering admin costs and prizes and the balance coming back to the County to cover our outdoor projects with an element of that going back to the Groups or Districts chosen by the Lottery participants. This can be another source of income to groups.
Mark Jefferson, ACMC Chair
As the Activity Centres are closed until 1st September 2020, providing a minimum service. We have had to furlough 2/3 of staff with a minimum team to support County functions and keep our Activity Centres ticking over. We are currently assessing how we can reopen and understand what steps we need to take. Lochearnhead will not reopen until April 2021 as it requires some structural adjustments. The Centres teams are contacting those with bookings during this period to offer transferred bookings through 31st December 2021 or an appropriate refund.
What do we need to do to reopen?
- We need a clear plan regarding structural adjustments as regards group sizes, PPE (up tonow we have shared harnesses and helmets) etc.
- County reps are joining regular industry meetings and talking to other centres and TSA
- Clearance from The Scout Association that the appropriate insurances are in place.
- There is a need for a re structure within our County support centre function and Activity Centres and as a result we will have to make some significant cuts for us to survive within our means. Our staff have been informed and we are in a consultation period.
Questions and Answers:
Q: When can we camp? And what is camping going to look like?
A: It currently isn’t feasible due to the social distancing rules in place from the Government, even now with the rules allowing us to meet up to 6 people we still need to make sure social distancing is maintained. We don’t have the insurances in place due as public liability insurance has been put on hold. We need to think about other things like sharing facilities, toilets, tents etc. We are keeping our ears to the ground and will inform our membership as soon as anything changes. (Liz and Mark)
Q: Given it is unlikely that the statutory accounts this year will not be declared and that the county is a going concern what plans do you have? Activity Centre generated income will not recover for a long time and subscription income will be down, is there anything Districts or Groups can do to support?
A: Thank you for the offer of support. We will be able to file and narrow our accounts and show eventually that we are an ongoing concern and that we can survive for the next 12months. We have had to make the difficult decisions in order to achieve this. It is a difficult time for us and with the mention of lack of income from the Activity Centres that is going to hit us mid-way through 2021, but we are confident that we will be able to survive but it will be a difficult time. (Mike)
Q: Will County and National subs be reduced to compensate for Groups collecting less subs this year?
A: Headquarters will not be reducing subs and have already indicated that they will be putting them up. At County level we are hoping to maintain the same level of County Subscription as last year and not need to put it but this will dependant on the budgets that we complete in November. (Frank)
Q: What is happening with Lochearnhead this year and coming years?
A: To achieve the measures in terms of hygiene and social distancing etc we anticipate that we are going to have to do quite a bit of structural work. We were in receipt of a bequest from Morris and that will mean we can get on with that work and will be doing that as soon as we possibly can but it is unlikely that we will be open again before the beginning of April next year. When we do reopen next years booking will go ahead in order as they were and we will not be bumping people on from this year to next year but after that we will get together with the Districts and plan out a new route map where we help as many young people as possible enjoy the gem amongst all of our Activity Centres. (Mark)
Q: How do Zoom pro codes work?
A: There is a Zoom Pro account allocated to each group and one allocated to each District and one for the County. To make it secure please set it up with a generic user using a group email not a personal one and once that is set up you can add those who have a free account as additional hosts. HQ released more details on this in the All Member email. (Dan)
Q: Can we share what has gone well for our sections?
A: If you share with us your amazing programmes then we will do our best to share them with everyone else. Try getting in contact with your ADC programme (Beavers, Cubs, Scouts or Explorers) (Liz)
Q: When we go back to face to face meetings, we may have to amalgamate sections, are there any guidelines or do we use common sense?
A: Absolutely use common sense, we need to think about risk assessments and what it means etc. If you need support with this please do ask us for support and guidance. We may also need to do a combination of face to face and virtual meetings in the future going forward even when face to face Scouting is permitted again. Also think about dividing sections based on the social distancing guidelines. (Liz)
Q: Realist timescales for return?
A: We have no crystal ball; we are planning for September but this isn’t a given. We need to make sure it is safe for schools to go back, that we have done the risk assessments and have gained the permissions from insurers and executives. Any international trips planned within the County for over the summer will not be taking place. Eurojam has been moved from this summer to next and the MOOT will now be held in 2022. (Liz)
Q: Are we running a County virtual camp like other Counties?
A: There is no reason why not, if that is something you guys think it is a great idea, we are more than happy to look at and support it. We are a massive County; we are more than happy to facilitate a virtual camp but we will need volunteers to help organise. But we do have Beavers in Dens for our Beavers in place of our Beavers in Tents (11 July), all are welcome to join in. (Liz)
Q: Is Peak Assault going to take place this year? If so what sort of changes will be made to the event?
A: Peak Assault core team have meeting virtually regularly over the past few months, although we are optimistic that Peak Assault could be our first event back, we are seeing some challenges and most of those will be financial and the social distancing measure that the government are going to put out for camping, for example. Transport is a key factor, coach companies are currently telling us that they are only allowing 12 people on a 54 seater coach, which will make it inconceivable to use coach travel. We are thinking about other options and staying local for this year, whether we run it out of Phasels or Tolmers with still the orienteering aspect of it we can still run it with fewer peaks within Hertfordshire. And at the moment it is still dependant on HQ telling us when we can restart Scouting and in what fashion. (Dan)
Q: Do you think we need to record all of our meetings in lockdown?
A: Recording meetings may have a safeguarding issue. Once you record the meeting those links are public and anyone can share that. More advice can be found on the Scout website in regards to Zoom meetings. It is not necessary to record meetings but make sure you involve those who were unable to attend in some appropriate way.
Q: How is the remote training being validated?
A: Our understanding is that at the end of the remote training you get a certificate which you email to your training advisor and they can put it on Compass for you. If you need any further assistance please email the training team.
Q: First Aid and DBS renewals that are running out in this time, what’s happening?
A: Further guidance can be found on the Scouts website. There is a 6 month leeway from when we restart. There are some sessions being done via Zoom but the practical side cannot be completed at this time. DBS - a number of the team at HQ have been furloughed who would normally support these and capacity for redoing is limited. The Scout Association have taken the view that they will be put on hold, as they come up, they are necessary and mandatory but they are not able to be processed right now but they will be done as soon as we are able to do so. When managers are notified about an expiring DBS, we are keeping a list and we will work together to clear the back log when we can but as soon as possible after restart. (Liz)
Q: What alterations/work is to be done at Lochearnhead?
A: The areas we are looking at are the Alpine bunks which don’t allow for social distancing therefore we need a more traditional bunk arrangement, which may reduce the total capacity for the centre for those indoors. We are looking at what alternative we can provide over the summer in terms of structure tented provision in order to carry on with around 90ish which is that currently provided for. (Mark)
Q: What happens to Activity Permits that are running out?
A: There is no leeway on Activity Permits, but if you have your log and don’t need a course to renew it could be renewed at the start of Scouting again. If you need Activity Permits renewed please send them in to your DC or County Support Centre with your logs which must be adequate.
Q: Given lockdown seems to be easing progressively with outdoor settings, what are the first actual Scout activities likely to look like?
A: We might be able to do small things like hikes, things outdoors and things that are going to give us a much safer level of Scouting. And perhaps in smaller groups rather than large groups indoors. We must wait for guidance from the Government and the Scouts.
Q: What are the greatest concerns or risk the scouts have with re starting activities? What are the greatest opportunities and changes the scouts have with re starting activities?
A: Three greatest risk/concerns:
1)As a parent is my young person going to be safe? What do we need to do to ensure we are safe.
2) Are young people ready to go back out into the world? And what can we do to encourage them and how do we make sure they can do that?
3) Making sure that our premises are safe with social distancing measures, government guidelines and the Scout Associations safety requirements.
The greatest opportunities have come with the change in how we do things, we have gone from monthly standing committee meetings to once a fortnight which has been incredibly productive. We will be able to adapt to a new ways such as online training, virtual training and face to face training (once we are allowed again). There is a huge amount of opportunity to see how we deliver meetings; how do we better engage people and what is it that our young people want.